Larry Harlow, Influential Figure in Salsa, Dies at 82

Larry Harlow, a classically trained pianist from Brooklyn who was one of the first artists on the groundbreaking Fania Records label, has passed away. He was 82.

Who is Larry Harlow

on Friday that the bandleader from Brooklyn known as “El Judo Maravilloso” (the Marvelous Jew) had passed away from heart failure. Kidney problems, according to his son Myles Harlow Kahn’s statement to Billboard.

Larry Harlow, Influential Figure in Salsa, Dies at 82

The label he signed with, Fania Records, hailed the New York High School of Music and Arts grad.

The record label expressed their sorrow over the loss of Larry Harlow, a producer, arranger, pianist extraordinaire, and part of the Fania All Stars. “El Judio Maravilloso, or Harlow, became famous for his skill on multiple instruments. Later, he started his own record company, Fania, and released 50 albums by other artists as well as his own.

Harlow was born and raised in Brownsville, where he also passed away, and it was there that he first became interested in salsa music, long before it became popular throughout the United States. He spent his formative years in the 1950s at Havana’s University of Afro-Cuban Music.

‘Man of La Salsa’ author Aurora Flores met Harlow in the ’70s, when he was lobbying the Grammys to include Latin music as a category.

Harlow was once described as “a mobster with wings” by Victor Guillermo “Yomo” Toro, a quatro player, according to the witness.

Flores claims that one of the things that would irritate him was hearing out-of-tune pianos in gangster-run bars.

“Larry Harlow had Excellent Pitch, so that was Torture for him,” She said with a Laugh.

Flores argues that Harlow’s openness to a wide variety of musical styles—from jazz to Klezmer to the Beatles—enabled him to “reboot” salsa. In 1972, he released “Hommy,” which was essentially the genre’s response to “Tommy,” a rock opera by The Who.

Flores hadn’t seen him since he started dialysis before the pandemic hit. They visited a local garden, which he had a hard time moving about in. Contrarily, she views Harlow’s death as a cause for rejoicing.

Larry Harlow Laughed and Said, “He had Some Life.” To Paraphrase, “I Believe he Lived Many Lives.”

Today, a legend in the world of Salsa music passed away. The Palladium in London, the Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro, the NYC Salsa Congress in New York City, and the rest of the world, he wrote. According to Rodriguez, it was Mr. Larry Harlow’s music that got people all over the world up and moving to the beat.

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Mr. Harlow’s impact on Latin music has lasted through the ages. In recognition of this, the International Salsa Museum is dedicating itself to preserving his memory and sharing the story of the incredible body of work he gave to the city of New York and the rest of the world. Our sincere gratitude, Mr. Larry Harlow. May you rest in peace.

When Harlow passed away in 2000, his son Tito Puente Jr., whose dad was acclaimed as “The King of Latin Music,” paid tribute to him on Facebook.


Larry Harlow wished, in part, that “one of the best piano players in the genre of Mambo and Salsa music” (his words) might rest in peace.

Today, the world of latin music has lost another musical titan. He was a humorous, charismatic, and immensely brilliant man. You will be sorely missed, ‘El Judio Maravilloso,’ the Marvelous Jew.